Skip

Teaching a lesson
May 23, 2012 10:17 AM   Subscribe


 
"There's very little meat in these gym mats."
posted by Fizz at 10:20 AM on May 23, 2012 [13 favorites]


I'm glad to see that this got reposted! (it had previously been deleted because the blog was so new)
posted by rebent at 10:26 AM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Since when do 9-year olds write like this?
posted by ReeMonster at 10:30 AM on May 23, 2012 [19 favorites]


Previous deleted post.
posted by ericb at 10:30 AM on May 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Man, I really love the plate/tray thing they have over there!

It's a few years old now, but when I was a teacher's assistant I took a picture of my school lunch every day I ate one. They were not the most nutritious things, but they weren't the worst, and they were certainly better than when I was a kid.

Honestly, if there was a school cafeteria at the job I have now I would eat there every day.
posted by dirtdirt at 10:32 AM on May 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


That blog is the best thing ever. This is what the internet is for.
posted by unSane at 10:33 AM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not only when do they write like that, but when do they take pictures that are so centered and in focus?
posted by jeanmari at 10:36 AM on May 23, 2012


Total WTF at the Grist writer deciding "Health rating 9/10, bitchezzz!" was ok to include in a piece about a nine-year-old girl. Total thumbs up for the blog, though – smart kid and improving school lunches!
posted by carbide at 10:37 AM on May 23, 2012


My 9 y.o. kid can write clearly and take decent pictures. It's not rocket science.
posted by unSane at 10:37 AM on May 23, 2012 [23 favorites]


This girl is my hero for today.

Lunches in the Seattle area vary dramatically from one district to the next. In almost all of them, there is usually one lunch du jour, but every day you can always get a mostly-meat-patty-in-a-semi-stale-bun, or a mostly-chicken-patty-with-same as a standard thing. Maybe there will be jojos with it. Chances are there won't be. You always get to grab a single bit of fruit with it, be it an apple, orange or peach.

That "lunch du jour" (that's my term, they don't call it that) usually doesn't offer much in the way of a real portion, and by necessity it has to be the sort of thing that they can crank out in a hurry.

Right around the week of Thanksgiving and again before Christmas, for instance, there's usually chunks-of-turkey-in-gravy-with-mashed-potatoes, but the "chunks of turkey" doesn't usually amount to much meat.

Cooked vegetables are ALWAYS unappetizing to look at. No matter how much I might like string beans or broccoli, I ain't eatin' it if it came from a cafeteria.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:38 AM on May 23, 2012


For each of her lunches, Martha rated taste, healthiness, and pieces of hair (usually zero but not always).

I like this nine-year-old.
posted by hypotheticole at 10:40 AM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


unSane: "My 9 y.o. kid can write clearly and take decent pictures. It's not rocket science."

Maybe not, but has he considered a career in that field? We could use more literate rocket scientists...
posted by IAmBroom at 10:41 AM on May 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Does anyone see a source of more than 6-8 grams of protein in any of those lunches, other than the sausages on May 14? Jeebus. Oh well, I guess you can always have more bread if you're hungry - that will help build muscle on a growing kid [hamburger].
posted by Currer Belfry at 10:50 AM on May 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


kids could have unlimited salad, fruit, and bread.

You know, that would be a good policy to try out in some more places. It might be that no-one takes the sad limp salad that results and the cheap apples rot. But it's the kind of simple thing that might work. Worth a look.
posted by alasdair at 10:50 AM on May 23, 2012


Why is garlic bread a side to a chicken fajita? Wait... why isn't it? I should start doing that. It sounds delicious.
posted by spec80 at 10:51 AM on May 23, 2012 [2 favorites]



It ain't France that's for sure.

Good for Martha, even if she's getting help (and we don't know if she is or isn't,) her blog makes a difference.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:52 AM on May 23, 2012


Love this:

Dad timed me to find Chicago on the globe and it took me 48 seconds but it was not fair as I was looking for it spelt SHicargo.
posted by sararah at 10:58 AM on May 23, 2012 [18 favorites]


Everybody knows all you need for fruits and veggies with your school lunch is Ketchup. St. Reagan said so!

I mean, all this healthy food here sounds straight out of Comrade Michelle's Fascist Plot to Make Our Children Healthy.
posted by symbioid at 10:58 AM on May 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


I miss lunch boxes.

When growing up, I had a handful and used them to death. There was my Fox and the Hound, Return of the Jedi, and Gremlins that I recall. The beauty of the lunch box was not just in the absolute love I had for the little guy itself, but for the love and care of the contents. Each morning my mom would make me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, throw in a banana or other fruit, maybe some soup or SpaghettiOs in the guaranteed-to-leak (but officially branded) thermos, some crackers or the like, and something sweet. As a bonus, the consistency in my lunch day after day helped me to stay relatively fit for all those early years. It probably only took her five minutes to put together in the morning, but the result was that each day at lunch she was there with me. Sometimes I would open the box to find a note like "I love you!" or "How about we go to the fair after school?" I felt bad for the kids eating the school's lunch. Suckers.

I know now that, in part, she made each day's lunch just to save a bit of money. She literally could not have been saving more than tens of cents a day, but it mattered to us. I respect her all the more for that little extra effort.

Today I have plenty of money and I buy my lunches. They are made by nice people, but they aren't my mom. They're relatively expensive and they aren't terribly healthy. I've gotten old and gotten out of shape. I could, and have tried, to make my own lunches to eat more healthy and save a buck or two, but there's no heart there. Sometimes you just can't have what you had as a kid, and that makes childhood special.
posted by Muddler at 10:59 AM on May 23, 2012 [23 favorites]


It ain't France that's for sure.

It also ain't the USA. Here she would have been expelled for embarrassing the school.
posted by localroger at 11:00 AM on May 23, 2012 [10 favorites]


It also ain't the USA. Here she would have been expelled for embarrassing the school.

That's a potential outcome, sure. But then would come the huge outpouring of public support, and the media would latch onto the story and completely miss the point.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:19 AM on May 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


I know now that, in part, she made each day's lunch just to save a bit of money. She literally could not have been saving more than tens of cents a day, but it mattered to us. I respect her all the more for that little extra effort.

That's why we do it, that and our kid is a steadfast anti-meat-atarian* from birth so he couldn't eat most of the stuff they have a school anyway.

It's more than tens of pennies, now, too I can tell ya. We got him a Spiderman lunchbox and some days he takes a water bottle, some days a juice box. He gets fruit every day, in one form or another. Which means he eats a lot better than I did as a kid.

*he eats chicken nuggets and fishsticks occasionally and insists they're not meat. Everything else is right out.
posted by emjaybee at 11:27 AM on May 23, 2012


I am unable to believe anything posted to the Internet ostensibly by a kid is actually by a kid. Especially this kind of stuff. Not sure how you crack cynics so easily buy it.
posted by xmutex at 11:28 AM on May 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


Pieces of hair- 1 (under the cucumber)

Love her attention to detail.
posted by LordSludge at 11:28 AM on May 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


When I moved to US during my 6th grade year, I was struck by the fact that aside from milk, everything on the plate was junk food. My mom made me a sandwich and put it into my lunchbox with a piece of fruit. But I wanted that school lunch. By high school, I had my wish. I was also 80 lbs. overweight by then.
posted by reenum at 11:38 AM on May 23, 2012


Oh, Internets, how do I love thee?
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:41 AM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


For everyone doubting the veracity of this child, she was interviewed by the BBC and Gizmodo has pics.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:43 AM on May 23, 2012


Since when do 9-year olds write like this?

Why, yes! Yes, this is a randomly chosen 9-year-old. How clever of you to notice. They exactly represent the abilities of the average 9-year-old. That's why they were chosen to write this blog.
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:43 AM on May 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


It definitely has the language of a 9 year old, good for her, kids need to eat well in a world of cheap unhealthy food.
posted by Prudentia at 11:52 AM on May 23, 2012


For ease of future viewing: fist post, without pictures, but telling the reader how the posts will be structured, and the second post, with a pic and rating.

"The good thing about this blog is Dad understands why I am hungry when I get home. "

And I think she gets some help from her dad, as he reminded her to count mouthfuls.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:52 AM on May 23, 2012


First post, not fist post. Right.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:53 AM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Muddler, I was lucky enough to marry a woman who makes me packed lunches for work.

I can tell you now that it doesn't matter whether you're 13 or 31, there is still nothing as satisfying as popping open your lunchbox and finding a completely unexpected chocolate mini-roll.
posted by garius at 11:58 AM on May 23, 2012 [16 favorites]


Well I'm glad the blog got a second helping here...
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 11:59 AM on May 23, 2012


To be honest, I still kinda miss the very odd version of spaghetti bolognese they used to sometimes . serve in my London primary school. I had no idea what spag bol was supposed to be like at the time
posted by Bwithh at 12:00 PM on May 23, 2012


At my middle and high school, every day we had a choice of fried chicken patty on a bun, cheeseburger, square pizza with cubed pepperoni bits, or the daily special. I don't remember what these all were but some of them included shredded pork on a bun or mystery meat in gravy. The available sides were perfectly fried french fries, or limp, mushy, nearly colorless vegetables. And this coming from a kid who grew up with canned vegetables and ate them pretty happily. And then chocolate milk, strawberry milk, or skim white milk.

Most days, I ended up eating fries and the chicken patty without the bun. And I drank the chocolate milk, because I didn't like the taste of skim milk. If it had been 2% milk, I would have had that sometimes instead.

I wound up 50lbs overweight when I graduated, and I attribute it at least 50% to those awful school lunches.
posted by Night_owl at 12:02 PM on May 23, 2012


I sort of assumed that her father is helping her write out her posts. Might be something this sit around and do together.

and her lunches are much better then mine were!
posted by royalsong at 12:09 PM on May 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't know what it is about this, but something about that blog is making me cry, here at my desk at work. It's just so sweet. I'm not at all a sentimental person, but something about kids kills me, and the surest way for me to feel awful/kinda-good is to imagine people I know as children. It breaks my heart in the best way.

Also, those lunches look pretty damn good to me. I never got a cafeteria meal as a schoolchild, and I always thought I was sort of lucky. Now I'm thinking twice, and I want a lot of that food for lunch.
posted by broadway bill at 12:11 PM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I had no idea what spag bol was supposed to be like at the time

Is "spag bol" a britishism? I thought she made it up.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:15 PM on May 23, 2012


It's amazing how big the dessert is in proportion to the whole meal.
posted by storybored at 12:21 PM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


My cafeteria in a Montréal high school offered decent options: sandwiches, soup, juice, milk and hot main courses, plus desserts. There were no soft drinks available (the sinful drink of choice was grape juice) and one day a week we got hot dogs, hamburgers or pizza. My lunch money usually went for soup, apple juice, a bun and dessert, but when the slightly more expensive hot dish was something like Paté Chinois, I got that and a single drink.

Moving to Toronto halfway through grade 9 was a shock. Not only was I surrounded by Protestants who would ask me for a rubber instead of an eraser, but the cafeteria was miserable. Instead of the big, airy array of choices I had gotten used to, the lunch line was a hot, crowded room where we went through a short list of choices: hot dogs, hamburgers, and fries with brown gravy, plus pop, desserts and milk for the virtuous. No fruit, no veggies. Plus, the subsidies just weren't there, and a filling (and greasy!) lunch cost two or three times as much.
posted by maudlin at 12:30 PM on May 23, 2012


My nine-year-old writes in that style pretty regularly. Why are expectations so low for nine-year-olds?
posted by DWRoelands at 12:34 PM on May 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


You guys are making me want to pack my husband a lunch. And for him to pack me a lunch, of course. I'd slip in a Ho-Ho from time to time. Or pudding cup.
posted by Occula at 12:35 PM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wish a 9yo would take a picture of my lunch every day to shame me into making something besides some darned sandwich or other.
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:36 PM on May 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Since when do 9-year olds write like this?

Kids often pick up adult-sounding language from their parents. This kid is from a different continent than you. Adults over there might be more likely to use certain formal-sounding words and phrases even when talking to children.
posted by John Cohen at 12:38 PM on May 23, 2012


Is "spag bol" a britishism? I thought she made it up.

Spag Bol is a pretty common slang... (we also have canned Spag Bol which is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike Spaghetti Bolognese)

It's amazing how big the dessert is in proportion to the whole meal.

Welcome to Britain, where pudding is everything.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:42 PM on May 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Next time I have a client that is unconvinced of the power and ease of modern day blog software, I'll point them to this blog so they can see that literally an elementary school student can use said software productively.
posted by thanotopsis at 12:42 PM on May 23, 2012


Good Eats Episode about Spaghetti, which talks about what Spaghetti is considered in America vs what it is in Italy and talks about the whole Spag Bol thing.
posted by royalsong at 12:54 PM on May 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Good Eats Episode about Spaghetti yt , which talks about what Spaghetti is considered in America vs what it is in Italy and talks about the whole Spag Bol thing.which talks about what Spaghetti is considered in America vs what it is in Italy and talks about the whole Spag Bol thing.

Not to Europeans it doesn't! CopBlocked.
posted by srboisvert at 12:58 PM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I find it interesting that she decided to include "pieces of hair" as a category even though, based on the first post, she didn't expect it to even be an issue.

Either that or it had happened before, she did expect it to be an issue, and she just has a more developed sense of sarcasm than I'd expect from a 9-year-old.
posted by asnider at 1:03 PM on May 23, 2012


Welcome to Britain, where pudding is everything.

And everything (sweet) is pudding, even cake.
posted by jeather at 1:09 PM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I didn't realize this thread would turn into a gold-mine of MeFi parents of 9 year olds! We should form a special club!
posted by latkes at 1:09 PM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I went to a small country elementary and middle school in the German-settled Texas hill country. The ladies in the kitchen we all local German-Texans, some the parents of my classmates. They cooked real food mostly from scratch every day.

My choir teacher was from the area but had taught elsewhere previously, and he constantly raved about how good the food was (and also spoke Tex-German with the ladies). It wasn't until I moved on to the newer, larger high school with a standard cafeteria that I understood what he was talking about.

I don't know how healthful the food was, but it was real food.
posted by tippiedog at 1:09 PM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


As to the veracity: my 9 year old could write like that, I think, but she wouldn't - not every day for fun. She is very interested in the quality of school lunches and actually tried to do a poll of her school to assess all the kids' feelings about the crappy lunches they have. Anyway, my guess is dad is helping - perhaps transcribing - and likely made the suggestion for the project. Not sure I think that's a problem... Would be interested to hear the BBC interview and my 9 year old would LOVE to hear it (she listens to the BBC news podcast with me in the mornings and likes it), so if anyone has a direct link, please post it!
posted by latkes at 1:12 PM on May 23, 2012


Sorry srboisvert. You can read a transcript here.
posted by royalsong at 1:15 PM on May 23, 2012




Awesome, thank you! Will listen with her when I pick her up from school.
posted by latkes at 1:30 PM on May 23, 2012


Is she getting enough malk?
posted by moorooka at 1:49 PM on May 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


I could write and take pictures like that when I was nine, but I also had parents that were writers, artists and/or photographers.

But I was touch-typing before that age and reading stuff like Brave New World and I basically grew up reading adult books from before I was even in school.

It's not that uncommon. You shouldn't underestimate articulate 9 year old kids.
posted by loquacious at 1:54 PM on May 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Lake Metafilter, where all the children are above average.
posted by naoko at 3:08 PM on May 23, 2012 [10 favorites]


But I was touch-typing before that age and reading stuff like Brave New World and I basically grew up reading adult books from before I was even in school.

It's not that uncommon. You shouldn't underestimate articulate 9 year old kids.


But that was 90yos when we were 9yo, and being 9yo meant something! Kids these days, with their haircuts and their rick rick rick don't know beans about beans!
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:10 PM on May 23, 2012


Seeing those little portion sizes was a trip. I always have trouble visualizing myself as a kid-sized person (my sense of the scale of other objects has of course changed) and the blog just reinforces that.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 3:44 PM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't think Australian schools do school lunches at all (maybe fancier schools than my kids go to), so anything about school lunches makes me sit there, mouth hanging open in shock at the dreck that schools seem to slop out to the kids. You can buy food in schools, things like drinks and sandwiches, and snacks (although I think less of that stuff now, they are all excited about healthy food in schools), but I think most people pack lunches to take. I still do my almost sixteen yr old's lunches: today he had a wholemeal tuna/mayo/lettuce sandwich; sliced carrot and red capsicum; tasty cheese and wholemeal rosemary crackers; and My Little Pony cookies. He often takes leftovers in a little thermos thing, and when it's very cold, he takes a thermos of coffee or chocolate (sometimes).

And we say "spag bol" here, too.
posted by thylacinthine at 3:56 PM on May 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Two points...

First, I've always wondered why schools have lunch at all, given the cost of it, the complaints about it, and the fact that they have under two hours left to the day. Cut the lunch, cut 40 minutes out of the day, send them home a bit earlier, and they can have whatever crap they can find in the cupboards at home less than an hour later than the last lunch at most high-schools. Personally, I spent, at a conservative estimate, over 99% of my lunch-times either in the library or (at two schools I attended - and if this doesn't describe the problem with the American education system, I don't know what does) Hiding under an out-of-the-way set of stairs so I could read in peace instead of going into the obligatory melee of the cafeteria.

Second, although I never really cared for eating lunch (still don't), I apparently had it damned good as far as quality goes. In elementary school, we had one of my classmate's grandmothers prepare for us, fresh every morning, something a hell of a lot higher quality than most of what I cook for myself these days (and I actually eat pretty health). In high-school, we had something like a modern commercial cafeteria setup, where you could go to any of a variety of stations and get pretty much anything you wanted (as long as you wanted pizza, a sub, or the "random entree of the day"). (In middle school, I mostly remember tater tots and corn dogs, though I probably ate less than half-a-dozen school lunches between those two years).

But... Kudos to this kid for getting something better than the crap they thought they could get away with.
posted by pla at 4:32 PM on May 23, 2012


I don't think Australian schools do school lunches at all (maybe fancier schools than my kids go to), so anything about school lunches makes me sit there, mouth hanging open in shock at the dreck that schools seem to slop out to the kids...

Yeah, as an Australian I always find myself a bit confused and aghast at US and UK "school lunches", because we don't really do them. My son's school has a canteen that's open one day a week, on Fridays. If kids want to order from it, the menu comes out on Thursday, they pick what they want and pay for it then. And it is all 100% totally, utterly nutritious and healthy. No deep fryers to be seen. The school has a vegetable garden, and kids harvest the veggies so the canteen can use them to cook the food. Every other day of the week, kids just eat what their parents give them in their lunch box.

On the other hand, of course, I don't think the different strategies are having an impact - I'm pretty sure childhood obesity is as much as concern in Australia as in the US and UK.

I guess once you are in a system where there is a daily school cafeteria, suddenly saying "no more school food, pack your own lunch!" isn't going to happen.
posted by Jimbob at 4:59 PM on May 23, 2012


(Public school, by the way. I am pretty impressed with their setup.)
posted by Jimbob at 5:02 PM on May 23, 2012


Very cool about the culture of bringing healthy lunches in Australia, but a big part of the reason school lunches exist here in the US is to serve poor kids. Is that addressed within the schools in Australia? (Curious!)
posted by latkes at 5:10 PM on May 23, 2012


I don't know, to be honest. I know a lot of schools have breakfast programs for hungry kids - my son's high school has one, although the school is located in a relatively high income area (but this area is pretty diverse, overall), and I knew teachers who would pay for kids' lunches out of their own pockets from time to time....but there totally should be some kind of way to ensure lower income kids get a decent lunch, too, you're right.

Jimbob, that sounds like a pretty groovy school! The school my little guys went to had a vegie garden, but I think they just ate out of it for novelty value.
posted by thylacinthine at 5:16 PM on May 23, 2012


You know what? I have no idea. My only experience on the matter is from when I went to school, where the "poor kids" brought their lunches too, but just had cheaper brands of stuff.

Even a Google search for "school lunch aboriginal children" brings up a bunch of Canadian websites, but no relevant Australian ones...
posted by Jimbob at 5:18 PM on May 23, 2012


That's what I was going to say, too. I think the 'you must take lunch' thing is so ingrained, that almost everyone does, even if it is pretty rubbishy. I *think* some schools tactfully arrange for the lower income kids to get something, if they don't have anything, but there should be a proper program.
posted by thylacinthine at 5:23 PM on May 23, 2012


Actually, to be frank, if you were spending your welfare payments on other things and sending your kid to school without any lunch, you'd probably be charged with neglect and have your child taken away.
posted by Jimbob at 5:52 PM on May 23, 2012


That's not food.
posted by WanderingTheHill at 6:35 PM on May 23, 2012


localroger: "It also ain't the USA. Here she would have been expelled for embarrassing the school."

Actually, they just would have confiscated the camera. No personal electronics!


pla: "Two points...

First, I've always wondered why schools have lunch at all, given the cost of it, the complaints about it, and the fact that they have under two hours left to the day. Cut the lunch, cut 40 minutes out of the day, send them home a bit earlier, and they can have whatever crap they can find in the cupboards at home less than an hour later than the last lunch at most high-schools.
"

Two points: Two hours is a long damn time with 25 hungry kids. Also, many, many kids go home to empty cupboards.

And I guess I have a third point. Kids deserve lunch too? They don't enjoy going 7 hours without eating anymore than grown-ups.
posted by that's how you get ants at 6:36 PM on May 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


Those portions are so tiny! I remember my lunch portions being bigger, even in grade school. In grade school, there was one hot lunch choice per day (entree, 1-2 side items - usually a potato/bread item and a veggie, dessert - fruit, ice cream, or a baked good, milk) - you either ate that or you brought lunch. In junior high. In junior high and high school, there was the one main hot lunch (as above), or you could buy things from the a la carte line. (The a la carte selection was much more extensive in high school. High schools also had a different bar each day - Mexican, hamburger, hot dog, potato, or pasta bar.) You could buy a lunch ticket or pay cash for the main hot lunch, but a la carte items were cash only.

It is different now - even grade school lunch has a couple choices, and junior high and high schools have several entrees to choose for the main hot lunch each day. Also, desserts are strictly fruits these days.
posted by SisterHavana at 6:39 PM on May 23, 2012


peanut butter and jelly sandwich

Bzzzt. You have failed modern parenting 101, please head to the back of the class, head-hung-in-shame.

According to school bylaws up here in northern Canuckistan, peanut allergies are sooooo severe, that children are not even supposed to eat peanut-butter at home - before they go to school, lest their breath actually kill some other poor, innocent child...

(My kids just love that idea... their breath as a deadly weapon...)

Sigh. When I was growing-up, we used to keep kids like that in bubbles and still eat our peanut-butter sandwiches, 'twas simpler times I tell ya.
posted by jkaczor at 6:44 PM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


First, I've always wondered why schools have lunch at all, given the cost of it, the complaints about it, and the fact that they have under two hours left to the day. Cut the lunch, cut 40 minutes out of the day, send them home a bit earlier, and they can have whatever crap they can find in the cupboards at home less than an hour later than the last lunch at most high-schools.

That's how I felt too ... until I read a comment on MetaFilter. I'm paraphrasing because I can't find the comment, but the commenter noted that for many of his/her students, the meals they eat at school are literally the only ones they eat. So if school is canceled because of snow, then the kids won't eat that day. That's a different situation than what I'm used to — I'm speaking as someone who was lucky enough to have a mother who sympathized with my dislike of school food and packed me delicious and healthy homemade lunches every day — but it suddenly put the whole "school lunch" thing in perspective for me.

That's why I love MetaFilter, by the way: I hear many interesting and varied perspectives that I probably wouldn't otherwise be exposed to.
posted by hypotheticole at 6:54 PM on May 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


pla: "First, I've always wondered why schools have lunch at all, given the cost of it, the complaints about it, and the fact that they have under two hours left to the day."

At my school lunch was at 10:35am for the high school. K-12 were/are all in one building. Since I graduated ~14 years ago, they've expanded and built a much-needed separate cafeteria for the elementary school. I stopped eating my junior year because 1. by the time you got through the line there was 10 minutes to eat, if you were lucky, 2. there weren't enough tables to sit at and if I could find a spot I was likely to be harassed by the other jerks, and 3. if I put my books down to reserve a spot, other kids would move or hide them. (Point 2 was still a problem even if I brought my lunch and left it sitting in my locker.) The school "counselor" called my mom and told her I could eat in the office. The kids would have made even more fun of me for that, and after that line plus the huge walk down to the office and having to carry the tray back when I was done, I'd have never had time. Mom told the school counselor to leave me alone.

Luckily my senior year I took a vocational class in the next town over and had time to stop at home for lunch on the way back to my own school. I still only had ~15-20 minutes to eat but I could at least have my lunch ready in the morning and leave it in the fridge.
posted by IndigoRain at 10:38 PM on May 23, 2012


There are a lot of breakfast clubs, etc in Australian schools run by the Red Cross and sponsors for kids - sadly for a lot of them it is their only meal in the day

Other organisations and religious groups also get involved

In my local community I know one of the small family focused churches has taken on this responsibility for the 4 public schools in their catchment.

Each school may have different programs administered by their P&C/P&F committees but I can't provide a link.

Obviously this is only targeting the first half of the day - there may be other programs for lunchtime for these kids if they are recognised by the school (having family that work within the school system they generally recognise children that need help).
posted by latch24 at 10:42 PM on May 23, 2012


Actually, to be frank, if you were spending your welfare payments on other things and sending your kid to school without any lunch, you'd probably be charged with neglect and have your child taken away.

Dude, this is so not the case. I used to run a summer program for severely disadvantaged urban kids. A core group of our kids were already under the care of social services and in fact, we ran this program with funding from social services to provide summer enrichment to their kids. They had individual social workers and several of them were in foster care. We had more than one turn up with empty lunchboxes. We just bought a lot of apples and set up sandwich production lines.

I'm not clear on what "other things" you're suggesting when you say "if you were spending your welfare payments on other things" but just in case this reality is not part of your world experience, just know that it is entirely possible - nay, common - to be a family getting welfare, WIC, foodstamps, TANF, rent subsidy, everything available and still be miles from making ends meet. Welfare recipients have dropped from 12 million to 4 million over the last 15 years but the poverty rate has remained static: 12% of Americans live in poverty. Food poverty and fuel poverty are incredibly common.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:42 AM on May 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


I haven't been able to find out if the school in question has a kitchen on site. Often it is the case that primary schools do not have the facilities or staff to prepare food for the children so the food is delivered daily and reheated on site where necessary.

Given the choice most children will not choose to eat vegetables or salad in my experience. I have worked at a school where children are charged for their food and generally the children do not take the opportunity to spend an extra 50p to get salad or two veg and potatoes, a drink and pudding with their chicken burger or 6 fish fingers. You can lead a horse to water.

There is small percentage of (mainly girls) who only eat from the salad bar, but even there the most popular choices are chicken, tuna, cheese, pasta, dough balls and potato salad. Or just plain pasta with literally nothing on it for those growing girls who are already suffering from poor body image and think they have to diet.
posted by asok at 4:00 AM on May 24, 2012


Another interesting thing about the federally subsidized school lunch program is that, due to its ubiquity, it is (apparently) often used as shorthand for other income-dependent programs. I taught at a small charter school that was trying like crazy to get a cafeteria going, because if they had a cafeteria they could get federal lunch subsidies based on student's income. Which they wanted partly because, again, for lots of kids that's the only reasonable meal they will get on any given day, but also (and likely more so) because many of the grants that they wanted to apply to use the federal 'percentage of students who qualify for free lunch' numbers to dole out money for other, non-food, things. If you don't have the lunch program, you can't even apply.
posted by dirtdirt at 6:47 AM on May 24, 2012


Welfare recipients have dropped from 12 million to 4 million over the last 15 years but the poverty rate has remained static: 12% of Americans live in poverty. Food poverty and fuel poverty are incredibly common.

OK, but Jimbob was talking specifically about Australia. Australian welfare in most situations tends to be more reasonable, I think. I don't think it's true that you'd get your kids taken away if your kid didn't have school lunches - that's a very extreme response usually reserved for situations that are immediately dangerous - but people would assume you were mismanaging your money, as problematic as that is.

What seems to be more common here is poorer kids skipping breakfast. It sort of makes sense to me, because if you don't want to call attention to yourself, you skip the meals that are usually eaten at home, not the ones that are culturally eaten in public.
posted by lwb at 8:48 AM on May 24, 2012


I used to run a summer program for severely disadvantaged urban kids. A core group of our kids were already under the care of social services and in fact, we ran this program with funding from social services to provide summer enrichment to their kids. They had individual social workers and several of them were in foster care. We had more than one turn up with empty lunchboxes. We just bought a lot of apples and set up sandwich production lines.

I know you don't run the program anymore, but I want to get this out there in case anyone else does, or knows of a summer program that doesn't serve meals. The USDA has the Summer Food Service Program that serves meals to children in the community during summer. They don't even have to happen during an official summer program.

The National Hunger Hotline has information on local summer feeding sites at 1-866-3-HUNGRY or 1-877-8-HAMBRE.
posted by elsietheeel at 10:18 AM on May 24, 2012


That kid's plate is so freaking empty. Look at all that white, empty space with most of her meals compared to the ones people sent her pictures of from other countries. Hell, she's going hungry at school every day if that's all they feed you!
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:41 PM on May 24, 2012


OK, but Jimbob was talking specifically about Australia.

Yes, I see that now, my apologies!

elsietheeel, thanks, that's interesting (and nutritionally weird!)
posted by DarlingBri at 10:14 PM on May 24, 2012




Looks like Never Seconds has been censored by the local council:
Goodbye.

This morning in maths I got taken out of class by my head teacher and taken to her office. I was told that I could not take any more photos of my school dinners because of a headline in a newspaper today.

I only write my blog not newspapers and I am sad I am no longer allowed to take photos. I will miss sharing and rating my school dinners and I’ll miss seeing the dinners you send me too. I don’t think I will be able to finish raising enough money for a kitchen for Mary’s Meals either.

Goodbye,
VEG


Hi,

Veg’s Dad, Dave, here. I felt it’s important to add a few bits of info to the blog tonight. Martha’s school have been brilliant and supportive from the beginning and I’d like to thank them all. I contacted Argyll and Bute Council when Martha told me what happened at school today and they told me it was their decision to ban Martha’s photography.

It is a shame that a blog that today went through 2 million hits, which has inspired debates at home and abroad and raised nearly £2000 for charity is forced to end.

Dave Payne
I've been following Never Seconds for the past few weeks and am livid that Argyll and Bute Council have banned her from taking further photos of her lunch. It seems to me that, despite the unfailingly respectful and polite tone of Martha's blog, the council are ashamed of their lunches and would rather put a stop to the transparency than provide better quality food. (There have been some small improvements in the lunches since Martha began posting, but the servings of fresh fruit and vegetable still seem pitiful.)
posted by hot soup girl at 3:58 PM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]








School Dinners and Spygate.

Argyll and Bute Council are getting a kicking on Twitter.

There's also a petition asking the council to lift their ban on VEG photographing her meals.
posted by hot soup girl at 7:52 PM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ban lifted!
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 5:57 AM on June 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yea, Internets!!!
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:55 AM on June 15, 2012 [2 favorites]




« Older Where Do We Go From Here?   |   Rejoice Dear Hearts Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post